Best Green Flag North East parks you should visit this summer

Jesmond Dene in Newcastle has won a Green Flag 10 years in a row
Jesmond Dene in Newcastle has won a Green Flag 10 years in a row -Credit:ChronicleLive

With the arrival of better weather - at last - that sniff of summer in the air is all we need to start planning family outings and making the most of what's on our doorstep.

We are surrounded in the North East by beautiful countryside and coastal areas as well as having an enormous range of parks to pick from if we just fancy an easy escape from the city hubs. Following on from this week's announcement by Tidy Britain of its annual Blue Flag and Seaside Awards - which includes five North East locations among the recipients: see here - we have the Green Flag Awards to come.

These go to parks and green spaces considered to be among the finest in the country and Tidy Britain will be announcing them in July. The North East has enjoyed regular success at these too so it will be all eyes on those in a few weeks' time.

Like with the Blue Flags, the Green Flags are internationally recognised and offer an easy way for visitors to check out parks which have the highest environmental standards, best maintenance and excellent visitor facilities. So ahead of the summer announcement, we are bringing you a reminder, below, of last year's Green Flag winners from across the region, with extra information included on some but all being beautiful parks to explore in the region during this lovely spell of weather.

And anyone seeking more food for thought here are some ideas of where to enjoy a picturesque picnic.

Green Flag parks in the North East


Jesmond Dene - the wooded valley, with its Pets’ Corner and historical features, has earned its Green Flag now for 10 years in a row

Walker Park - Walker Park, which dates back to 1891 and was originally designed to provide a pleasant green space for those living in an industrial area, retained its status for a seventh year

Exhibition Park - fourth consecutive year

Leazes Park - fourth consecutive year


Alexandra Park - in the centre of Cramlington, this has a skate park, tennis court and wildflower area

Astley Park

Bolam Lake Country Park - situated in the heart of the Northumberland countryside, surrounded by historic landscapes and dramatic views, this has lakeside, woodland and open grassed areas with a lakeside walk accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs

Carlisle Park - the garden here commemorates the life of 'the father of English botany' William Turner, who was born in Morpeth in 1508. Flower beds set against herbaceous borders make up the formal gardens, first laid out in 1929. The park is also a haven for wildlife, its woodland being home to bats, squirrels and badgers

Castle Vale Park and Coronation Park

Doctor Pit Park - a small park with footpaths, a play area, skate park and bowling green

Druridge Bay Country Park

Eastwoods Park

Hexham Parks

Hirst Park

Plessey Woods Country Park - near Hartford Bridge, mid-way between Bedlington and Cramlington, this popular spot with trees nestling by the river, is known locally as Bluebell Woods

Ridley Park - attractions include a summer waterplay area, tennis, putting, bowls and a cafe in the old bowling pavilion

North Tyneside

Northumberland Park - between Tynemouth and North Shields, this park has attracted visitors to its woodland paths, gardens, lake and bowling green since it was opened in 1885

The Rising Sun Country Park

Benton Quarry Park

Marden Quarry Park

Killingworth Lakeside Park

Wallsend Parks

Chirton & Redburn Dene Parks

South Tyneside

Monkton Dene Park

North Marine Park

Readhead Park

South Marine Park - on the seafront in South Shields, this park has been a popular with visitors for more than 100 years. It has art trails, a boating lake, cafe, a play area and a miniature steam railway

West Park - Jarrow

West Park - South Shields

Blossom trees at Saltwell Park in Gateshead
Swans silhouetted at sunset at the Bolam Lake Country Park


Saltwell Park - known as The People’s Park, this opened to the public in 1876 and attractions include Saltwell Towers, its lake and wildlife, formal gardens, maze and bandstand. See our gallery of photographs showing the Gateshead park across the seasons

Chase Park - this historic park and gardens in Whickham were restored in 2017


Herrington Country Park - the former colliery spoil heap (the Herrington New Pit coal mine closed down in 1985) won its first award in 2005 and it has enjoyed success ever since. Sitting under the shadow of Penshaw Monument, it provides wildlife habitats including meadows, woodland, lakes and streams

Barnes Park - in the heart of Sunderland, this 14.6 hectare park was opened in 1909 and now boasts play areas, sensory garden, bridges over a stream and lake and a specialist disability changing room

Hetton Lyons Country Park

Roker Park - next to the seafront, this park has a model boating lake, model railway and ‘smugglers caves' and regularly hosts events, including the Sunderland 10k and the illuminations

Mowbray Park - Sunderland’s first park, this opened in 1857 and has floral displays, art features, a bandstand, play area, bowling green and picturesque lake

Elba Park - Houghton le Spring


Annfield Plain Park

Blackhill and Consett Park - this park was laid out on reclaimed land by the Consett Iron Company and gifted to the community in 1891 and has views over rolling countryside scenery as well as an original Victorian fountain and bandstand

Hardwick Park

Riverside Park - a large park with riverside footpaths, a large play area, a water play area in summer months and a cafe kiosk

Wharton Park - boasting views of the cathedral, castle and viaduct. It was originally was donated to the people of Durham in 1858 by William Lloyd Wharton, then chairman of the Great North Eastern Railway and High Sheriff of Durham.

In addition to parks, Green Flags - and Green Flag Community Awards - have been awarded to other deserving green sites. And separate Green Heritage Accreditation also went to Saltwell Park and Chase Park, both in Gateshead, as well as Blackhill and Consett Park in County Durham. For the full list of 2023 winners see here and watch this space for the upcoming news of 2024's awards.